The Untold Truth Of Alyson Hannigan

Alyson Hannigan has a reputation for playing captivatingly quirky characters, from bookworm-turned-formidable-witch Willow in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to artsy kindergarten teacher Lily, known for sometimes treating her friends like her students, in "How I Met Your Mother." There's also the adorkable band nerd who discovers an alternative use for a flute in the 1999 movie "American Pie," a role that fans still reference when they see Hannigan out in public. On "The Kelly Clarkson Show," she said that she sometimes has to stop them from repeating her famous "This one time at band camp" line in its entirety when her two young daughters are with her. "I get really panicked," she said of her fear that her girls will hear the rest of Michelle's spicy short story.

Hannigan's career cooled a bit after "HIMYM" ended in 2014, but she did score some work in projects that are more kid-friendly, including the 2021 Disney film "Flora & Ulysses." Her daughters were already fans of the book it was based on, so she couldn't have asked for a better gig. "I got extra points. I kind of think they love me a little more right now," she told the Daily News of how they reacted to her casting.

Her daughters, Satyana and Keeva, were also able to watch her in action when she joined the cast of "Dancing with the Stars" in 2023. Hannigan's casting was a reminder of her awesome career and her fascinating life.

Alyson Hannigan's embarrassing indigestion ad

Long before she began vanquishing demons with the help of Sunnydale's Scooby Gang, Alyson Hannigan's earliest acting role called for her to devour sweets like Scooby-Doo scarfs down Scooby Snacks. She recalled to Paste, "My first commercial I did, I think, was when I was like four or five, for Toll House cookies, and I got to eat a chocolate chip cookie over and over and over and I was like, THIS IS THE BEST JOB EVER." That will definitely get a kid hooked on acting.

A far less tasty experience filming a Mylanta commercial made Hannigan later question the work she was doing. The ad almost begins like a scene from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": Ominous music plays, and a man doubles over as if he's been possessed. "Last week really scared me. My dad's stomach was really bad," says Hannigan. "I was afraid he had an ulcer. And then you know what? The doctor said Mylanta." (Cue upbeat music.)

On "The Drew Barrymore Show," Hannigan shared that going to school while that ad was on the air was not a fun experience. "I got teased so much about that commercial that it sort of traumatized me a little bit," she said. The bullying got so bad that it possibly cost her a job; she later went to an audition for a feminine hygiene product commercial and noped right out of it after learning that she would have to talk about having a "heavy flow."

She won the role of Willow over Melanie Lynskey

Actors win some and they lose some. In an interview with ET, Alyson Hannigan revealed that one of the gigs that got away from her was "Blossom." Of losing the lead role in the acclaimed sitcom to Mayim Bialik, Hannigan said, "I remember being devastated as a kid."

While she didn't get to wear those rad flower hats, Hannigan's TV career would really start to blossom a few years later. She got a lucky break when "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon was unable to immediately convince his top pick for the role of Willow Rosenberg, Melanie Lynskey, to audition for the show. At the time, the "Yellowjackets" actor was best known for her role as a teen killer in the 1994 movie "Heavenly Creatures." Lynskey was a New Zealand native, and this factored into her hesitancy. "It was kind of a visa issue," Lynskey explained in an interview with Shut Up Evan: The Newsletter. "But not really. I also was not sure about doing television at that time. It was very early in my career." On top of this, her agent considered television a medium for struggling actors. 

Eventually, Whedon shot a pilot for "Buffy." Lynskey's feelings about the show remained lukewarm until she saw it and decided to accept Whedon's audition invite. But by then, Hannigan had entered the picture. Even though Whedon had been pressuring Lynskey to audition, apparently she couldn't out-Willow Hannigan. 

She met her husband while filming Buffy

How Alyson Hannigan met her kids' father is a story worthy of some Bob Saget-level narration. Hannigan told The Mirror that she developed feelings for Alexis Denisof soon after he joined the cast of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. "But he didn't want to date somebody he was working with and he had recently been in a not-great relationship," Hannigan said. So, instead of dating Denisof, she settled for being stuck in the friend zone.

Hannigan would find her romantic feelings for Denisof impossible to deny, however. "I was in his trailer at work and a voice told me that I could marry him," she recalled. Instead of listening to that voice and trying to shoot her shot with Denisof again, she tried to silence it. "I totally freaked out and stopped flirting with him and ran off and dated a person who was the complete opposite of what I look for in a relationship and just had fun," she revealed.

After that relationship ran its course, Hannigan consulted with her "Buffy" co-star Anthony Head about whether she and Denisof should give dating a shot. She told Zap2It that Head was initially against the idea because she and Denisof made such great friends. However, after talking it over with his girlfriend, he changed his mind. We're guessing Denisof (finally) realized what he was missing while Hannigan was with that other guy, and the couple tied the knot in 2003.

The American Pie star has some wild sex stories

Alyson Hannigan didn't mention anything about doing something unmentionable with a flute during her 2001 Playboy Q&A, but what she had to say still probably had some fans doing a Jason Biggs-style spit take. When asked to divulge the craziest place she's ever done the deed, she didn't demurely decline to answer the question. Her interviewer mentioned the "American Pie" pool table scene between Eddie Kaye Thomas and Jennifer Coolidge, and Hannigan shared that she's been there, done that. "But I'd say probably the wildest would be ... oh, man ... I guess, while driving. That was good. And it was a stick shift so it was kind of difficult. We had to maneuver," Hannigan recalled. Then, there was this one time at a theme park when she and a date decided to have a quickie on an aerial lift ride. "It wasn't hot and heavy sex, but it was like, OK, well, just so we could say we did it," she said.

While Hannigan doesn't go full-on dominatrix like her "American Pie" character, she once wanted to make a change to her bedroom that was a little "Fifty Shades of Grey": installing a piece of chain-link fence on her headboard. "You can grab onto it, you could climb it," she said. But while discussing her idea with some men who work in construction, it was pointed out to her that the fence would make a ton of noise.

Her former home was used as a filming location

While living in Encino, Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof invited the "This Is Us" camera crew into their home. Fans of the NBC drama got a peek inside the couple's house when the series time-jumped to show what the future held for the Pearsons. The abode was even part of the series' plot; Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley) built it for his mom, Rebecca Pearson (Mandy Moore).

On "The Michelle Collins Show," Hannigan explained how her home became the setting of some of the series' emotional scenes. She said that the property was frequently rented out to production companies by its previous owners. "I think my house's résumé is probably longer than mine," she quipped. Because it had a reputation in Hollywood as a filming location, she and Denisof frequently had to turn down requests to shoot there. But it was a little harder to say no to the "This Is Us" team. "It turned out, our neighbor was the director. And we were like, well, if we were ever going to do it, we would do it for that show 'cause it's so good," she said.

Sacrificing their living space ended up benefitting the couple; Hannigan revealed that the crew offered to repair some minor damage that was her family's fault when they were finished filming. In 2022, Hannigan and Denisof sold the home for $16 million after purchasing it for almost $8 million in 2016.

John Ritter's thoughtful gesture

Courtesy of the incredible sets she's worked on, Alyson Hannigan has a pretty awesome collection of television memorabilia. One item that's particularly special because of the sentiment attached to it is a rubber duck T-shirt she wore in a Season 2 episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Late "Three's Company" star John Ritter was guest-starring on the show at the time as a suspicious guy named Ted whom Buffy's mom was dating. "I was like, 'I love this shirt so much,'" Hannigan recalled to BuzzFeed. "Well, John went to wardrobe and was like, 'Can I buy it so she can have it?'" Hannigan later found the surprise present waiting for her in her trailer. "It was a glorious gift just to work with him, but for him to be so thoughtful and considerate ... that was beyond," she said. Hannigan also took home a few macabre set decorations, so now she gets to have one of the spookiest houses on the block every Halloween.

From the "How I Met Your Mother" set, Hannigan has the miniature red phone booth from Ted Mosby's (Josh Radnor) apartment. One of the show's creators, Carter Bays, also wanted it as a souvenir. "In the end, when Alyson Hannigan gives you the puppy dog eyes, you give her the little, red British phone booth," Bays' co-creator, Craig Thomas, told Yahoo! TV. We don't know whether Hannigan kept anything from "American Pie," but that flute probably wouldn't make the best conversation piece.

Her daughter got fired from How I Met Your Mother

Alyson Hannigan got to work with Alexis Denisof again when he was cast as anchorman Sandy Rivers on "How I Met Your Mother." She was also supposed to work with one of her daughters on the show, but the timing wasn't quite right.

When Hannigan was pregnant with her oldest daughter, Satyana Marie Denisof, in 2008 and 2009, the "HIMYM" writers weren't quite ready to add a child into the mix on the series. In addition to often hiding her baby bump, they explained its presence away in creative and fun ways — such as when, in one episode, her character, Lily Aldrin, wins a hot-dog eating contest. By the time Hannigan got pregnant again in 2011, Lily was also expecting, and Hannigan was ready to give her daughter, Keeva Jane Denisof, an early introduction to acting. However, co-creator Carter Bays decided that Keeva had aged out of the role of Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily's baby, Marvin, when it came time to shoot his scenes. "First of all, that's ageism. I don't think you're allowed to fire her because she's too old," Hannigan joked to HuffPost.

Hannigan told BuzzFeed that the baby who replaced Keeva was Bays' daughter. She believes this is why the producer gave in and let her keep the phone booth prop when they were fighting over it after the series wrapped. "His baby was like six months younger. So, it was his baby. But I got the phone booth, so fair trade," she said.

The adorable story behind Satyana's first Halloween costume

When a heavily pregnant Alyson Hannigan appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in 2009, she tried to explain to the talk show host what "pregnancy brain" felt like for her. "I sort of feel like a koala bear where I'm slightly stoned all the time," she said, making us wonder what type of eucalyptus the koalas she's encountered have been eating. After Satyana Denisof was born, Hannigan was thinking about a different Aussie animal while planning her daughter's first Halloween costume.

Speaking to Celebrity Baby Scoop, Hannigan said the decision to dress Satyana up like a joey was inspired by a story from Alexis Denishof's childhood. "He has a younger sister and when his mother was pregnant, he was convinced that she was giving birth to a baby kangaroo, and when his sister came home he was very upset she was not a kangaroo," Hannigan recalled. She and Denishof also dressed up as kangaroos, and Hannigan's costume even included a pouch to carry her daughter in.

Here's another fun fact about Satyana: She was born on March 24, which just so happens to be her mom's birthday, too. "She's the best birthday present I could ask for, and now I get to plan the party and have a kid party on my birthday, too," Hannigan told CinemaBlend. "Now I have the justification for needing a bounce house." Her family certainly is a hoppy bunch!

She deserves some credit for the Buffy opening credits song

While Alyson Hannigan dated Marilyn Manson's drummer, Ginger Fish, for years, it actually wasn't the shock rocker's sinister sound that she turned "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon on to. According to drummer Steve Sherlock, a member of the nerd rock band Nerf Herders, singer Lisa Rieffel had introduced Hannigan to his group's music around the time Whedon was trying to find a replacement for the original "Buffy" theme song. "Aly became an instant fan and played the CD for Joss and other cast members. Then they all became fans, and eventually asked us to write a more rocking theme song," Sherlock said in an interview with Dazed. Hannigan told BuzzFeed her role in getting the band the gig was unintentional, saying, "I certainly wasn't smart enough to know that they could do the theme song."

Another fun bit of "Buffy" trivia about Hannigan is that Alexis Denisof is not the only co-star whom she crushed on. And no, it wasn't Seth Green, who'd previously played her boyfriend on "My Stepmother is An Alien" before their on-screen matchup on "Buffy." In a 2019 episode of "Watch What Happens Live," she admitted to having a brief fling with Nicholas Brendon, who played Alexander "Xander" Harris on the show. "I think Nick and I might have kissed once, like off camera," she said (via E! News). "He might have had a boob or something."

There were fears she and Cristin Milioti looked too similar

When Cristin Milioti joined the cast of "How I Met Your Mother," it was impossible not to notice that she and Alyson Hannigan had similar big, expressive eyes, pale skin, and petite physiques. Hannigan told HuffPost that this is why the producers made the two of them stand beside each other in a trailer before Milioti began shooting her scenes. "They wanted to look at us next to each other to see if they were going change her hair or something because they were a little worried that we looked similar," Hannigan recalled. Their resemblance sparked a fan theory on Reddit that perhaps what Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) was looking for in a partner was someone who possessed traits of both of his female best friends, Lily and his on-again, off-again girlfriend Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders).

For the record, Hannigan wasn't completely satisfied with the controversial "HIMYM" finale. But her main issue with it wasn't the death of her almost-doppelganger and Ted's reunion with his favorite ex; she was on Team Ted and Robin 'til the bittersweet end. "It just seemed too quick. Obviously, it was a tear-jerker, but with all the stuff that got cut out it was too fast ... like 'OK, now we're going to find out the mom's dead, then suddenly, OK — he's with Robin now,' and you're just like, 'Wait, what happened?!'" she told

She attended the first American Idol finale

Alyson Hannigan got to witness reality show history in person when she attended the finale of the first season of "American Idol" in 2002. Years later, she had the opportunity to talk about her experience with the "Idol" winner when she appeared on "The Kelly Clarkson Show." Hannigan told Kelly Clarkson that her husband was scheduled to shoot an episode of "Angel" the day of the finale, but he had a bloody accident before going to work. "He happened to be cutting flowers, but with a knife, which was dumb," Hannigan recalled. "And he slit his wrist." While the injury wasn't serious, it still required stitches, and Alexis Denisof was allowed to miss work that day to recover. Hannigan then invited him to attend the "American Idol" finale with her. At one point, the show's cameras cut to a shot of the couple in the crowd. "When he went to work the next day, they were like, 'You faked an injury just to go see 'American Idol,”" Hannigan recalled.

Hannigan shared another interesting work-related factoid during a different appearance on "The Kelly Clarkson Show": When she was a teenager, she used to babysit the oldest child of "How I Met Your Mother" narrator Bob Saget. The gig scored her an invite to one of her young charge's birthday parties, where she met "Full House" stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen when they were toddlers.

Her ex-boyfriend believed a death rumor about her

There was a period of time when the celebrity death hoax was a sign of someone truly making it in Hollywood. They don't seem quite as common nowadays, likely because social media makes it so easy for a celeb to release a statement debunking any erroneous reports about their untimely demise. But back in the early aughts, it took some effort on Hannigan's part to let her loved ones know that she was still alive and kicking after news stations began reporting that she had died in a car crash. "I got home and there were tons and tons of messages on my machine. Nobody leaves the message, 'Hey, are you dead?' It was all [sounding concerned], 'Call me if you get this!' 'Call me if you're all right!' I thought, 'Oh my God, I wonder what happened?'" Hannigan recalled to The Mirror in 2003. She would later find out that someone started the death rumor on the internet, and it spread like wildfire from there.

One person who believed the hoax to be true was an unidentified ex. "My ex-boyfriend freaked and went to my house and broke down because my dogs were there. He was crying, 'Who's going to take care of the dogs?'" Hannigan said. "It was horrible for my friends." At least she learned that a lot of people cared deeply about her (and her pets).

She was unhappy with Sarah Michelle Gellar

When Sarah Michelle Gellar told Entertainment Weekly that she was done slaying vampires in 2003, she slayed her popular series. According to Alyson Hannigan, she learned that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was over the same way many sad fans did: from Gellar's interview. "I was devastated. I was just very shocked," Hannigan told Entertainment Weekly. She also addressed Gellar's announcement in an interview with Sci-Fi Online. "I thought that was in poor taste ... It would have been nice for her to have mentioned it to the crew or the cast," she said.

Gellar has admitted that there was some tension between herself and Hannigan before the series ended. "It wasn't rosy. Nobody gets along all the time. And Alyson and I had moments. There's no question." she said in an interview with "Into Every Generation a Slayer Is Born: How Buffy Staked Our Hearts" by Evan Ross Katz (via People). But Gellar also suggested that any on-set discord wasn't personal. "I think that unfortunately the set we were on and the world we were in was pitting us against each other," she said.

Once Gellar and Hannigan put some distance between themselves and that stressful work environment, they got along just fine. Hannigan praised her former co-star for being a hard worker in a 2013 HuffPost Live interview, and they posed for a cute pic together when Hannigan invited Gellar to her younger daughter's birthday party in 2015.

She's proud of Willow and Tara's relationship

"Buffy" fans know well that Dark Willow mode was triggered on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" because of the tragic end of a truly special love story. As the powerful witch couple Willow Rosenburg and Tara Maclay, Alyson Hannigan and Amber Benson pushed the boundaries of how a same-sex relationship was depicted on broadcast television. Back then, one kiss between two women had network execs reaching for the smelling salts. "Literally, I remember Alyson and I being like, 'Spike and Buffy are shtupping on a gravestone, seeing everything ... How come we can't?" Benson told Den of Geek. "We were all up in arms about it." 

To get the couple's kiss in "The Body" episode on the air, creator Joss Whedon had to get creative. "He had us do this amazingly intense kiss — I'm talking saliva trails — and he turned that in," Benson recalled. Whedon assumed the censors would make him tone down whatever he filmed, so this way, he ensured he would end up with more than a quick peck.

While the characters' relationship wasn't as physically affectionate as Benson and Hannigan would have liked it to be, it still made a difference. "To this day, there are so many people that have come up to me and told me their story," Hannigan told BuzzFeed. "I can't even describe what a nice feeling that is, and to know that something I was a part of helped somebody get through a challenging time and have hope."

Some former co-stars were excited about her DWTS news

Alyson Hannigan was partnered up with professional dancer Sasha Farber when she joined Season 32 of "Dancing with the Stars." She found herself going up against some pretty tough competition, including "Zoey 101" actor Jamie Lynn Spears, Marvel star Xochitl Gomez, singer Jason Mraz, model Tyson Beckford, Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, and social media personality Lele Pons. On the show, Hannigan revealed that her only previous dance experience was an attempt to take ballet classes as a toddler. Her ballerina career ended in heartbreak when her cruel instructor wouldn't give her a tutu for a dance recital. "It traumatized me, and I am on 'Dancing with the Stars' now to repair my childhood trauma," Hannigan said.

A number of Hannigan's former co-stars let her know that they were rooting for her when she decided to give dance another chance. "Do you write break a leg? Or is that bad luck?!? So just good luck?!? You have the best partner In @sashafarber1," Sarah Michelle Gellar wrote in response to one of Hannigan's Instagram posts. Hannigan also got a "Yes" from her "How I Met Your Mother" castmate Cobie Smulders, along with a string of emojis demonstrating her excitement. Hanngian's "American Pie" co-star Jason Biggs was ready to see her in action, too. "Let's goooooo," he wrote.

While Hannigan didn't come out on top of the leaderboard, her presence on "DWTS" reminded us just how much we miss seeing her on TV every week.